Sanpete County asks redistricting committee not to divide it

Salt Lake Tribune, The (UT) - Sunday, June 12, 2011
Author: Lee Davidson The Salt Lake Tribune

Ephraim » The Legislature's Redistricting Committee held the first of four weekend hearings Friday in central and southern Utah, and was told in Sanpete County what it has heard all around the state: Please keep our communities together. 

"Keep Sanpete together," Gunnison Mayor Lori Nay said. 

Sanpete County Commissioner Spencer Cox said his county -- divided into three House districts -- is "the poster child for terrible map drawing." None of its representatives actually lives in the county, he said. 

The trouble is, the Redistricting Committee will have to divide some communities as it forms 75 equal-population districts for the state House, 29 for the state Senate and four U.S. House districts. 

Sanpete County, with a population of 27,822, is not large enough to have a state House district of its own. Each House district will need about 36,852 people to be equal in population, as required by the Constitution's one-person, one-vote rule. 

Committee members presented several proposals at the meeting on how to redraw state House districts in southern and central Utah. All of them would split Sanpete into two or more districts -- a notion that upsets Sanpete leaders. 

The proposed split shows why the county needs a legislative district centered there, Cox said. No one is looking out for Sanpete's interests in the Legislature. 

"Somebody's ox is going to be gored," he said. "Our ox has been gored, starved and recently castrated. We hope it will be someone else's turn next time." Cox and several Sanpete County mayors presented several redistricting proposals of their own, all of which would keep the county in one district. 

The Redistricting Committee -- with 14 Republicans and five Democrats -- nearly outnumbered the 30 or so people in attendance during its hearing at Snow College. 

The committee then moved on to another hearing scheduled for Friday evening in Richfield. Additional hearings are scheduled for Saturday in Cedar City and St. George. 

The forums are among 17 hearings statewide to discuss redistricting options with local officials and residents.